The Power of the Gospel: the Cross
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2Co 12:9
Those who are unwilling to suffer with Christ will never know the joy of Christian victory. When Judas became convinced that Jesus was going to the cross, he switched sides, and sold the Lord to His enemies. Poor Judas couldn't understand the way of the Kingdom, and could not therefore inherit the kingdom of God. His misery and wickedness had been foretold in Psalm 55, for Judas was "a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company." Because of this betrayal the prayer of the Psalm included these words "Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it. Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets."
Sometimes the very zeal and energy that drive a man into the ministry are the very strengths that the devil uses to make his work a curse and not a blessing. The kingdom of God is not built by the zeal and energy of men, because that which is born of the flesh is flesh. Those who derive their energy from the praise of men, will be overthrown by the curses of men because, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." James 1:19-21
Far more good is done by my passive and humble receiving of the word of God into my heart and mind than will ever be done by the deceit and guile of my words. That which is born of the flesh is flesh,and the works of the flesh are readily discernable: wrath, strife, sedition, clamor, tale-bearing, and slander. These are the more respectible ones. The flesh has many devices and terrible arts by which it seeks to pick off the weak and sickly from the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Mt 5:11-12)
This is the reason that patient continuing in well-doing is absolutely essential for the minister of the Gospel. He does not need to vindicate himself, for the Lord will always validate the work of His faithful ministers. The chaff is driven away before the winds of reality and burned in the fires of the judgment of God. But not yet. Until then it is given to the man of God to suffer for the word of the Gospel. There are always many around who are willing to see him get what they think he deserves. "Beware when all men speak well of you," Jesus said. He asked His enemies, “How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?” (Joh 5:44)
Those who seek to destroy others in order to advance themselves fall under the wrath of God. “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all [of you] be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1Peter 5:5)
Those who shun the cross will miss the crown.